BenQ MP512 ST
800x600 resolution, 2,200 ANSI lumens, 255x90x214mm, 2.2kg
If you own a Nintendo Wii, this could be the ideal projector with which to partner it.
The ST suffix stands for 'short throw', which means the MP512 can generate a big image from a relatively short distance. This is ideal for the Wii, as it means you can stand behind the projector and avoid obscuring the image. At just 1m you'll get a 55in image, rising to over 110in at 2m. There's no zoom, though, so it can be tricky to get the biggest possible display if there are limited places in your lounge to put a projector.
The MP512 uses an 800x600 pixel DLP chip, which is more than enough for the Wii's standard-definition 480p output. With a claimed brightness of 2,200 lumens, you'll have no problems playing games with the lights on. There's no dynamic contrast, but the DLP technology means blacks appear darker than they do on most LCD projectors.
Although the Wii can output games in widescreen, the MP512 has only a traditional 4:3 aspect ratio. Its low resolution means that it's not ideal for HD games consoles such as the PS3 or Xbox 360. Bearing in mind the standard-definition resolution, it's unusual to find HDMI alongside the VGA (with supplied component converter), composite and S-video inputs. The 3.5mm mini-jack audio input is useful, especially as the 5W speaker can produce an impressive amount of volume.
If you have a Freeview box with component or S-video outputs then image quality is reasonable, although many boxes have only SCART or low-quality composite outputs. Colours were vibrant and accurate, particularly mid-tones. Thanks to a colour wheel that has more segments than usual, the dreaded DLP rainbow effect wasn't overly pronounced, although it still reared its head in high-contrast scenes.
Delve into the menu system and it's clear that this projector is aimed at beginners. It provides troubleshooting help when you can't see an image and even includes help for simple issues such as a blurry image. You also get several presets for projecting on to coloured walls, with the blackboard option clearly a crossover from BenQ's education models. These presets are useful, but you'll get good colour accuracy when projecting on to white surfaces.
As with most current projectors, the lamp lasts around 3,000 hours in standard mode and 4,000 in Eco mode, which dims the brightness to around 1,600 lumens. Lamps cost around £200, which equates to 7p per hour in standard mode.
The MP512's biggest drawback is its price. It's hard to justify spending this much when you can buy a 720p model for a similar amount. Unless you specifically need a short-throw model, we'd recommend an HD projector instead.